Finding Time to Exercise: Tips for Busy Working Parents

A boy playing with a soccer ball

Most of us acknowledge that exercise is important for our well-being, yet as working parents, we often cant seem to find the time for workouts on top of keeping up with children, jobs, commutes, and other chores and responsibilities. With busy schedules, its not easy to find time for our individual health and well-being. However, if you are able to find the time, you will realize that exercise will make you and your family healthier and happier.

Research shows that exercise helps people stay healthy and more energetic, facilitates weight loss, improves circulation, tones muscles, improves posture, and gives us a more positive outlook on life. What child, spouse, or partner doesnt want a mom, dad or mate whos happy, smiling, and in good health? When you view it as something important for your family, it will make finding time to exercise easier.

Workout Tips for Busy Moms and Dads

  • Fit exercise into small chunks of time. Finding the time to go to the gym can be the biggest challenge for working parents. Plan your day to include fitness between commitments or activities. Consider parking far away from your destination when running errands; walk up steps instead of taking the elevator; walk or bike to the store instead of driving; use part of your lunchtime to walk or work out; or take a brisk walk before picking up your children at child care. Even ten-minute increments make a difference.
  • Combine chores and exercise. Walk or ride a bike to do errands. Do squats while picking up toys or clothes from the floor. Put on music and dance while you dust or vacuum the floor. Do outdoor choresgardening, raking, shoveling, sweeping driveway, etc.
  • Join in during play time. Playing with children is a great way to get exerciseshoot hoops, play soccer, ride bikes, play tag, set-up obstacle courses, play with hula hoops, have a dance party, or join in one of these classic playground games.
  • Try a gym that has child care. Child care at the gym can help busy parents turn exercise into a fun and stress-free experience. Your family is in the same building. There are new children to meet and different activities to experience. Many children see it as an adventure. You might refer to it as "Family Gym Camp."
  • Trade off workout times with your partner or a friend. Take turns watching the children one night a week or on weekends so that you both get exercise time. Single parents can partner with other single parents or friends and trade child care.
  • Use "down time" to multi-task. Read a book while on a stationary bike or do sit-ups and push-ups while watching a movie. Take advantage of early morning hours. The time before other family members wake up offers solitude for yoga, an exercise DVD, or a workout routine.
  • Exercise as a family. There are countless ways to get healthy as a family. Take a walk after work or on weekends, go hiking, jog around the playground, do yoga together at home, play a sport together (tennis, skiing, hockey, taekwondo, etc.). In addition to the health benefits, family members will also enjoy quality time together.

Of course, its terrific if you can wrangle alone time to go to the gym, jog around the neighborhood, attend a yoga class, or take a brisk walk with a friend. But when thats not possible, you can still work on your personal fitness by creatively analyzing your lifestyle to include exercise in your daily routine.

More on Healthy Habits:

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Bright Horizons
Bright Horizons
In 1986, our founders saw that child care was an enormous obstacle for working parents. On-site centers became one way we responded to help employees – and organizations -- work better. Today we offer child care, elder care, and help for education and careers -- tools used by more than 1,000 of the world’s top employers and that power many of the world's best brands
A boy playing with a soccer ball